Thursday, January 17, 2008

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

It is my first time to purchase a sourdough bread from a deli. I have seen sourdoughs (or mock sourdoughs) in a number of bakeshops, but I've never tried them because of my personal standards of a good sourdough. I am no expert, but countless books and some teachers have somehow created a purely foreign view of them. I love breads, I've been in love with them ever since I swore off eating grocery-bought white breads (that's about when I was 9 years old). Truly, I believe that my passion for breads stemmed from there.

Luckily for me and for posterity, Mickey's Delicatessen by Michael Beck is a dream come true where breads are concern (I couldn't say as much with their other food simply because I only made a quick stop for some breads). I tried ALL their sourdoughs, as there were a lot of breads free for all in the counter, but only bought the Whole Wheat Sourdough which is my favorite of the lot. They even got Pain a L'Ancienne, which I only used to read and dream of doing in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. In no way do I know for a fact that they're the same bread (therefore applying the same extraordinary technique), but I was delighted to see it, anyway.
For a not-so-hefty a price (P100+), this sourdough delivers and may well become one of the few breads I know that truly satiates even without the stuff-ins, the fill-ins and what not. Why? because when toasted, the crust turns into a very crisp skin that crackles with every bite. I find satisfaction in the sound and mouth feel of it juxtaposed a tangy, chewy crumb. This is the kind of bread so sturdy that you can make a very thin slice, toast it and is perfect as croutons.
The only problem I encountered was in slicing it. No decent bread knife would do! What you need is a heavy duty, serrated knife that won't get stuck in the middle of the bread. When not toasted, the loaf is very leather-y and almost tough even--which is expected with breads made with minimal fat and sugar (or no fat/sugar at all) and baked free form in a wood-fired oven or a baking stone that gives its characteristic thick crust. It's impossible to make a decent sourdough bread without applying such and such process, adding a properly fermented starter, baking in the right temperature for the right amount of time... it's a complex process, which I know how this sourdough bread came into being.

Mickey's Delicatessen by Michael Beck
144 Jupiter Street corner Orbit Street
Bel-Air 2 Village, Makati City

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